The most obvious pleasure in becoming serious about wine is tasting and drinking. First, you learn to appreciate what you like about wine, then you develop the tools necessary for critical enjoyment of wine. Beyond that, the secondary joys of wine center on finding new and unusual wines to taste and enjoy.
For those who get truly bitten by the bug, it doesn’t take too long before you want to start buying and cellaring the wines you find. Aside from the coolness factor of saying you have a cellar, the economic impact of buying wines at release instead of five or ten years down the road makes this an attractive hobby as well.
The main obstacle for the neophyte wine collector always seems to be space. How can you cellar wine in a house with no cellar? How can you keep wine in an apartment? How can you keep wine when you hardly have the space to keep your kids?
The answer lies in the fact that wine laid down is wine that needs to be ignored. It doesn’t need – it shouldn’t be all that accessible.
The old rules of thumb about temperature and humidity, while valid and based on centuries of experience, are not carved in stone. Yes, heat will impede the maturation process and lack of proper humidity will cause corks to dry out and shrink. That does not mean that wines can not live comfortably with their owners. Storing wine in a house or apartment with a fairly consistent temperature of around 70F will only marginally affect its evolution. It is when wines experience harsh fluctuations in temperature that really bad things begin to happen.
With this in mind, you can easily convert a hall or spare bedroom closet into a cellar that can hold up to 12 or 15 cases of wine. The easiest way is to store them the way they come. Inside cardboard or wooden cases (making sure to keep them on their side so that the wine inside the bottle is in constant contact with the cork, insuring it stays moist).
Since you want the wine to remain undisturbed, it is best to choose a closet that is not regularly used. The inconvenience of having to move several cases to get to a particular bottle should help in keeping cellared wine’s #1 enemy – the guy who owns it – at bay. At least long enough for the wine to reach maturity.
Another low cost solution is to get lengths of PVC cut which are the length of you bed. Stacking various sizes – to accommodate different size bottles – allow for the undisturbed storage of many bottle of wine. The area is generally cooler than the rest of the room and the pipe helps keep the wine protected.
PVC can also be used, cut to bottle length, to make boxed stacks. There are several sites on the Internet offering plans for such wine racks. The reason for the PVC is to add structural integrity. Nothing is so disheartening as finding a pile of broken glass and spilled wine where you once had several hundred dollars worth of aging nectar.
These boxed stacks can then be placed in out of the way corners, in closets or just about anywhere. Just remember to keep them away from vents, out of traffic and far enough away from the TV or stereo to avoid a lot of vibration.